Inver Hills, Metro State gardeners to plant orchard honoring Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims in Newtown, CT

Higher Learning Commission

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS – A group of professors and students from Inver Hills Community College and Metropolitan State University will plant an orchard in Newtown, Conn., this fall in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

A part of the town of Newtown’s public Victory Garden, the fruit tree orchard will be established Oct. 5 with a tree planting ceremony and community-wide planting effort. Produce from the trees ultimately will be donated to food shelves in the Newtown community, which was shattered last December by the Sandy Hook shooting that took the lives of 20 first grade students, six school personnel and the shooter’s mother.

Inver Hills Psychology Professor Barbara Curchack, Ph.D., and Metropolitan State Psychology Professor August Hoffman, Ph.D., — co-founders of the award-winning Inver Hills-Metro State Interdisciplinary Community Garden located on the Inver Hills campus — are working with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation on the Sandy Hook Victory Garden project. They hope to bring with them eight students – four from Inver Hills and four from Metropolitan State – who have been active with the colleges’ garden.

“Planting a tree can be a healing activity — a tree gives life, continues to grow, gives back to the community and brings people together,” Curchack said. “We are so moved to be taking on this project, and we know it will have a profound impact on our students. We hope this is just the start of our relationship with the Newtown community.”

A fund has been set up on behalf of the local students participating in the tree planting. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at, with the designation “Sandy Hook Victory Garden.” Those who wish to donate by mail should include “Sandy Hook Victory Garden” in the memo line of their check, addressed to: Inver Hills Community College Foundation Office, 2500 E. 80th St., Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. Donations will be accepted through Aug. 26.

For more information, visit, or contact Barb Curchack or August Hoffman at or

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